John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

YODER: I don’t understand what you mean. MOCINEK: Well, your reputation, your habits?

YODER: You mean can they make me out a drunken slut, like some kind of hooker? I was never unfaithful to Cordell, or to Buddy. If you don’t count that night on the boat with Tuck. There was one man for a very short time between Cordell’s death and when Tuck hired me. He wasn’t married, but he is now. No, I don’t get sloppy drunk in public, and I don’t screw around. I’m not what you call really well liked, I guess. That’s because all my life I’ve said what I think.

PATRICK: Mrs. Voder’s reputation in West Bay is good.

MOCINEK: What about her revenging herself on Loomis for having dropped her years ago?

YODER: Tuck usually doesn’t put things in writing, personal things. But he did write me a letter over five years ago and I kept it. He says in the letter he didn’t really blame me for breaking up with him, but he was going to miss me a lot, and he wished me happiness.

MALLORY: Just one last thing. I just noticed it here in my notes. Do you know anything about the business relationship between Tom French and Tucker Loomis?

YODER: He used to do a lot of Tuck’s real estate work. Tom set up some kind of a limited partnership to invest in raw land. Tuck bought in and then sold out at a profit and the other investors got back maybe a dime on the dollar. It was a big stink and it was investigated but they didn’t come up with anything. Since then Tuck hasn’t used Tom that I know of.

MALLORY: That’s all. Anybody else? No? Thank you, Mrs. Yoder!”

MOCINEK: Just one more. Does this Wade Rowley know you contacted Agent Mallory?

YODER: No sir. And I’d just as soon he wouldn’t find out. He wouldn’t want anybody being that protective about him. Can I ask a question?

MALLORY: Of course.

YODER: Are you fixing to nail Tuck?

MALLORY: Don’t expect to have it happen tomorrow. Or next month. But expect it to happen. For sure. Count on it.

YODER: Because if you don’t, I could be in trouble.

On that same Saturday at four in the afternoon Wade Rowley was working late and alone at the office, trying to reconstruct Bern’s expense account for the year up to the date of death, using the random notes and reminders he had found in a top desk drawer, in a file and in a notebook Nita had discovered in Bern’s desk at home, along with those charge accounts which had been billed to Bern personally rather than to the business accounts. It was a tiresome, irritating task, and when the phone rang he thought it was Beth asking him how much longer he would be working on a Saturday afternoon.

“Wade? This here is Boob. Boob Davis.”

“What can I do for you?”

“Well, we’re setting over here in Tuck’s office, here in the bank, and we got to talking about you, called your house and Miz Beth give us this number.”

“Who’s we?”

“Me and Tuck, just the two of us. And Tuck, he was wondering if you’d come on by here, you got a minute.”

“What for?”

“I guess Tuck wants to tell you something or ask you something.”

“What about?”

“You know how he is. Me, I just work here.”

“Is he right there?”

“Yes he is. You want to talk to him?”

“No. You tell him that if he wants to say something to me he can come here, alone, and say it. I’ll be here.”

“You sound a little bit pissed off, Wade.”

“That’s a pretty good description. You tell him that.”

“Hold on.” Wade waited. “Hey, we’ll be over pretty soon.”

“Just him, Boob,” Wade said and hung up.

After the call he could not keep his attention on the task at hand and so he wandered restlessly around the main area of the offices, from desk to desk. The buff-colored Lincoln town car pulled up in front of the door. Tucker Loomis got out on the passenger side leaving Boob behind the wheel. He wore a tweed cap, a gray cardigan, gray slacks. Wade saw him pause, square his shoulders and take a deep breath before coming to the door. Wade met him there and opened the door for him.

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